Types of accommodation


Country Report: Types of accommodation Last updated: 30/11/20


There are no available comprehensive statistics on the capacity and occupancy of the entire reception system, given the different types of accommodation facilities existing in Italy. The following sections contain information and figures on: CPSA / hotspots; governmental reception centres; and CAS.

At the end of 2019, the number of asylum seekers and beneficiaries of international protection in the reception system was 67,036 distributed among 10 governmental reception centres and hotspots, and 6,004 in CAS.

Compared to 2018, the number of CAS decreased by 33% but the changes imposed by the tender specifications led to the closure of many small CAS centres and the distribution of migrants in large CAS with few or no services.

Occupancy of the reception system: 31 December 2019


First reception centres and CAS





Source: Ministry of Interior


First reception: CPSA / Hotspots


The Reception Decree states that the first rescue and assistance operations take place in the centres regulated by L 563/1995, which, though improperly, is considered to govern the First Aid and Reception Centres (CPSA) present at the main places of disembarkation.[1] During 2016, the Government clarified that such centres served as Hotspots. According to the SOPs, persons should stay in these centres “as short as possible”, but in practice they are accommodated for days or weeks.

By the end of 2019, four hotspots were operating in Apulia (Taranto) and Sicily (Lampedusa, Pozzallo, and Messina), while Trapani hotspot was converted into a CPR. The hotspots of Lampedusa and Pozzallo have been reopened following the temporary closure in 2018; put in place only partially in the case of Lampedusa.[2] A total of 78 persons were accommodated in hotspots at the end of the year, all in Sicily.[3]


Governmental first reception centres


The Reception Decree provides that the governmental first reception centres are managed by public local entities, consortia of municipalities and other public or private bodies specialised in the assistance of asylum applicants through public tender.[4]

At the time of writing, first reception centres are established in the following regions in Italy:


First reception centres by region

First reception centre


Gorizia (CARA)

Friuli-Venezia Giulia

Udine (Caserma Cavarzerani)

Friuli-Venezia Giulia

Trieste (Fernetti)

Friuli-Venezia Giulia

Pordenone (Hub Caserma Monti)

Friuli-Venezia Giulia

Bologna (Mattei)


Foggia (Borgo Mezzanone)






Crotone (Sant’ Anna)




Agrigento (Villa Sikania)[5]


Treviso (ex Caserma Serena)





In early 2019, some centres were closed by the Government. This is the case of Castelnuovo di Porto, Rome, Lazio,[6] whose closure, albeit long awaited, has sparked serious criticism for the way in which it happened, and Cona, Venice, Veneto.[7]

The first governmental centre of Mineo (Catania), Sicily, was definitively closed as of 10 July 2019.

As for the other centres, the way in which it was closed, the scarce or no consideration of vulnerable situations and the transfer of the guests to equally low-threshold centres, mainly in the Cara of Isola Capo Rizzuto, Crotone, have raised bitter criticisms also among organizations such as Doctors for Human Rights (Medu), who have called for the centre’s closure for years. [8]


In Trieste, Ors society won the tender for the first reception centre located on the border with Fernetti which, until October 2019, had hosted 1,500 asylum seekers coming from the Balkan route.


Temporary facilities: CAS


In case of temporary unavailability of places in the first reception centres, the Reception Decree provides the use of Emergency Reception Centres (centri di accoglienza straordinaria, CAS). The CAS system, originally designed as a temporary measure to prepare for transfer to second-line reception, expanded in recent years to the point of being entrenched in the ordinary system. The Reception Decree adopted in August 2015 missed the opportunity to actually change the system and simply renamed these centres from emergency centres to “temporary facilities” (strutture temporanee).

The CAS are identified and activated by the Prefectures, in cooperation with the Ministry of Interior. Following Decree Law 113/2018, CAS facilities can be activated only after obtaining the opinion of the local authority on whose territory the structures will be set up.[9] Activation is reserved for emergency cases of substantial arrivals but applies in practice to all situations in which, as it is currently the case, capacity in ordinary centres are not sufficient to meet the reception demand.

The CAS are specifically designed only for the first accommodation phase for the time “strictly necessary” until the transfer of asylum seekers to a first reception centre.[10] The services guaranteed are merely essential as in the first reception centres (see Forms and Levels of Material Reception Conditions).[11]

Decree Law 113/2018, implemented by L 132/2018, refrained from defining time limits for transfer to first reception centres, thus further endorsing a temporary and precarious approach to reception for asylum seekers. That said, the law states that within one year of the entry into force of the reform, the Minister of Interior shall monitor the progress of migratory flows with a view to the gradual closure of the CAS centres.[12]

There are over 6,000 CAS established across Italy.[13] As underlined (see Forms and Levels of Material Reception Conditions), following the MoI tender specification schemes most of the small CAS were obliged to close, leaving the accommodation scene to large centres managed by profit organizations or big social cooperatives.

The fact that the majority of available places are currently in CAS, coupled with the cancellation of the possibility to access second-line reception facilities, illustrates a reception policy based on leaving asylum seekers in emergency accommodation during the entire asylum procedure.


Private accommodation with families and churches


In addition to the abovementioned reception centres, there is also a network of private accommodation facilities which are not part of the national reception system, provided for example by Catholic or voluntary associations, which support a number of asylum seekers and refugees. Several churches had already accommodated refugees and many others have decided to do so following the Pope’s call of 6 September 2015.[14]

It is very difficult to ascertain the number of available places in these forms of reception. The function of these structures is relevant especially in emergency cases or as integration pathways, following or in lieu of accommodation in SPRAR prior to the reform.


[1]Article 8(2) Reception Decree.

[2]Il Fatto Quotidiano, ‘Anac: “Anomalie negli appalti dell’hotspot migranti. Troppe proroghe e affidamenti diretti in maniera impropria”’, 15 March 2018, available in Italian at: http://bit.ly/2GbcamP; ASGI et al.,  Scenari di frontier: il caso Lampedusa, October 2018.

[3] MOI, Cruscotto Statistico Giornaliero, 31 December 2019, available in Italian at: https://cutt.ly/ryONrC5.

[4]Article 9(2) Reception Decree.

[5] As of 15 October 2019, the Villa Sikania centre has been closed. See Agrigento notizie: https://cutt.ly/7yONt2U; however, in April 2020, due to Covid-19 emergency,  70 people disembarked in Lampedusa have been placed there in fiduciary isolation. See : https://cutt.ly/KyONyEK.

[6] Redattore Sociale, ‘Non difendiamo i grandi centri ma così è inumano’, 23 January 2019, available in Italian at: https://bit.ly/2T4Dzt2; ‘Cara Castelnuovo parlamentare blocca un pullman con i migranti’, 23 January 2019, available in Italian at: https://bit.ly/2W0tn6P.

[7]Venezia Today, ‘Chiuso centro di accoglienza Conetta’, 20 December 2018, available in Italian at: https://bit.ly/2O4ouXH.

[8] Repubblica, Cara di Mineo, ecco perchè non c’è da festeggiare, 10 July 2019, available in Italian at: https://cutt.ly/HyONuy1.

[9] Article 11(2) Reception Decree, as amended by Article 12 Decree Law 113/2018 and L 132/2018. Prior to the reform, the law provided that the local authorities should only be notified and issue a non-binding opinion.

[10] Article 11(1) and (3) Reception Decree, as amended by Decree Law 113/2018 and L 132/2018 only refer to Article 9 on first reception centres and no longer to second-line centres.

[11]Articles 10(1) and 11(2) Reception Decree.

[12]Article 12-bis Decree Law 113/2018, as amended by L 132/2018.

[13] According to the latest figures on file with the author, on 21 October 2019 the number of CAS was 6,004

[14] Il Fatto Quotidiano, ‘Profughi, l’appello di Papa Francesco: “Ogni parrocchia accolga una famiglia”’, 6 September 2015, available in Italian at: http://bit.ly/2GjNplL.


Table of contents

  • Statistics
  • Overview of the legal framework
  • Overview of the main changes since the previous report update
  • Asylum Procedure
  • Reception Conditions
  • Detention of Asylum Seekers
  • Content of International Protection
  • ANNEX I – Transposition of the CEAS in national legislation